HESA has four extensive research reports that cover different elements of the crucial decision making process students undergo to select a postsecondary institution and program. There are four reports: the Student Decisions Project, the Early Influences Project, the Prospective Arts Student Survey, and the Parental Influence Project. These reports all draw on extensive, Canada-wide interviews to reveal how students in grade 11 and 12 and parents understand the PSE decision making process. They provide actionable strategies and advice for improving ways to reach and communicate with prospective students and their parents.
All of these reports are available for purchase, contact us for more details.
The Early Influences Project (2017) draws on in-depth interviews with 225 grade 11 students from across Canada. It identifies the sources of information that they use, and captures the hopes and concerns they have about their postsecondary life. The report demonstrates that students are well into their postsecondary decision-making process by grade 11, and provides strategies for institutions for attracting student interest before they develop their final choice set.
The report, which is available for purchase, includes eight chapters providing insight into key themes that all institutional recruiters need to deal with, including:
- How do students develop their initial preferences for particular colleges and universities?
- What sources of information do students use, and who do they talk to about their decisions?
- What information are they struggling to find, and how does that impact their choices?
- What do they think postsecondary life will be like? What are they anticipating, and what do they fear?
- What can cause them to change their mind before the final decision is made?
The Parental Influence Project (2017) is based on over 200 interviews with parents of children in their final years of high school. Building on the other student decision projects, we determined that parents are the most important influencers of prospective student decisions, and so we spoke with them to increase our understanding of the specific ways in which they exercise their influence. The project explores the expectations parents have, and what shapes and limits the choices they make available for their children. It explores the different approaches parents develop for speaking with their children. The report will improve institutional recruiter understandings of a critical factor behind student’s PSE choices.
The Student Decisions Project (2015) was a longitudinal, four-wave interview series that followed 350 grade 12 students through the process of establishing a choice-set of post-secondary institutions. The interviews probed different themes during the decision-making process, including early research, application preparation, application submission, and acceptance. It uncovers when students make choices, how they make choices, and who influences those choices. The 70-page final report includes sections on:
- Student goals for their postsecondary experience.
- Identifying barriers and gaps obstruction student decision making.
- The process of student decision making over their grade 12 year.
- Strategies for effectively reaching students during the critical decision-making phases.
The Prospective Arts Student Survey (2015) employees in-depth interviews with 300 students to probe the decreased interest in Arts subjects in Canada. Students were asked about the factors they considered when identifying a desired discipline of study, and the values and needs that played a role in that decision. They were asked about their understanding of the term “Arts” and what it refers to in the context of post-secondary education. PASS identified different market segments and proposed strategies to attract students to Arts programs.